S E C T I O N
IIEmerging Methods inMolecular Biology andGenetics
SAMUEL H. BARONDES
When the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology was founded in the mid-1950s, molecular biology and ge-netics were in their infancy and had little to offer neuropsy-chopharmacology. By 1967, when the first volume in thisseries was published, it still had not become apparent how greatly our field would be influenced by research on genesand on DNA. Of more than a hundred papers in thatvolume—
Psychopharmacology: A Review of Progress 1957–1967
—only a few used tools of molecular biology.None of those papers, including my own, envisioned thecentral role that such tools have now come to play.This central role, which is documented in this section,istheresult ofthedevelopment oftwotypesofnewtechnol-ogies. One of them, the automated sequencing of the nu-cleotides in DNA, facilitated the decoding of the structureof all genes, including those that make up the human ge-nome. The other consists of ways to manipulate the struc-ture of individual genes in isolated cells or in intact organ-isms, and to measure their levels of expression. This made itpossible to directly study the biological actions of particulargenes, and the effects of changes in their regulatory regionsand coding regions.These technologic advances are now being applied to a
Samuel H. Barondes:
Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry, Depart-ment of Psychiatry, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco,California 94143-0984.
Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress.
Edited by Kenneth L. Davis, Dennis Charney, Joseph T. Coyle, andCharles Nemeroff. American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
variety of problems in neuropsychopharmacology. For ex-ample, measurements of the levels of expression of largenumbers ofgenes invarious brainregions and nerve cellsareproviding information about the molecular basis of normalbrain functions, and the effects of drugs on these functions.The same technologies are also being used to learn aboutthe molecular pathogenesis of mental disorders. As work onthe human genome continues it will lead to the identifica-tion of gene variants that influence susceptibility to mentaldisorders, as well as of gene variants that influence the alter-native ways that individuals respond to particular psychiat-ric drugs. It will also provide new targets for the creationof better drugs, with greater efficacy and specificity.The six chapters in this section provide a sampling of themolecular and genetic tools that are being used to advanceneuropsychopharmacology. Because these tools are chang-ing so rapidly, the authors provide overviews rather thanextensive details. In this way they hope to make these toolscomprehensible to the nonspecialist, and to invite their fur-ther application. As you read these overviews you will become increasingly familiar with a series of new terms—from
.These terms are becoming commonplace, and are already scatteredthroughoutthisbook.Bythetimethenextvolumein this series appears, it is likely that the methods that they refer to will be so widely used in our field that a separatesection about them will no longer be needed.